With bilingualism on the rise, many children have speech and language difficulties in one of the two languages they are learning. Speech-language therapy can be a good next step to tackle any speech and language learning issues that a child faces. Speech and language therapists or pathologists (SLP) are qualified individuals with the training to identify, assess, and provide remediation for pathological communication conditions. Commonly known as Speech and Language Therapists, the accurate term is Speech and Language Pathologists. Trained SLPs can help your child better comprehend a language and speak it with clarity.
What is a bilingual speech-language pathologist?
A bilingual SLP is professionally trained and certified to provide speech and language pathology to bilingual children for their specific needs and challenges. Bilingual SLPs need to have almost native proficiency in the languages they provide therapy for and a deep cultural understanding of their students. They can provide invaluable help and support to students and their families to tackle challenges with language learning.
Bilingual SLPs can help diagnose and treat a variety of disorders. They can help identify standard language learning difficulties and actual speech disorders. These can range from communication to speech and language issues. Based on their expert opinion, they can remedy these concerns and provide support material for the same.
Who can seek help from a bilingual SLP?
Learning a language is hard, and learning two can be a greater challenge for many students. Because they have proficiency in two languages, they can identify any standard or condition-specific challenges a child may face. They truly shine when working with speech and language disorders. They can provide strategies to cope with and potentially overcome speech disorders like apraxia, dysarthria, and stuttering or language disorders like mutism. They can also flag if something is a speech-language disorder or a developmental condition like ADHD or Autism.
If you observe any speech and language-related difficulties with your child, you can seek help from a bilingual SLP.
What does a bilingual SLP do?
A bilingual SLP will generally be found at your child’s current school, at least in the US, and should meet all requirements to be a school-based specialist. A school-based SLP serves the following roles and responsibilities:
They must have near-native proficiency in two or more languages depending on the language support they offer. This would be English and Spanish in most regions of the United States.
- They should be competent in code-switching, i.e., changing from one language to another mid-sentence, since the child may often show such behavior.
- Know how to separate speech and language disorders from other cognitive issues to recommend the right support.
- Develop services to help a child meet academic, emotional, social, and vocational goals for both languages.
- Administer tests to know which children need their services and also present treatment plans for the same.
- Helping students with any and all communication, speech, and language issues.
- Recognize common cultural factors in native speakers of a certain language that may impact services
However, an SLP’s role cannot be simplified to the duties above. They can be an important partner in your bilingual child’s overall conditioning and academic development. They may work with additional physicians to provide a more holistic approach toward speech and language development.
Where to find an SLP?
Bilingual SLPs can be found in your child’s school primarily. Currently, the state of California has the most bilingual SLPs, followed by Texas and New Mexico.
To find a bilingual SLP near you, you should look for a professional with a Graduate Degree in Speech Pathology. The program that has ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activists) is a good place to start. CAA accreditation is also important to ensure that all current professional standards are being met. The SLP will need a license to practice in your state, which is only issued after a professional appears for an Exam.
Beyond the academic qualifications, you should also see the age group that they work with and reach out to former clients and employers to understand what they are like. If you are a parent looking for an SLP, most of the above factors will also be directly applicable.
Speech and language therapy refers to the help and supports a professional provides to help your child in their language learning journey. Speech and language pathology (SLP) is a more accurate term for the professionals administering this support. SLPs can help all children who are facing language or speech difficulties. They can recognize standard learning difficulties from actual learning disorders. From here, they can administer the right kind of therapy to help your child learn a language or work in collaboration with other physicians to provide more holistic care. SLPs need to be proficient in at least two languages while understanding and adhering to the general guidelines of being an SLP. SLPs are generally part of the staff at your child’s school in the United States, with California having the highest number of SLPs. All SLPs must have the right qualifications and a license to practice. Beyond the academic requirements, they must have experience working with children, preferably from your cultural background.